In his own words Dave Broom is a journeyman writer, but the truth is far deeper than that. One of the world’s best known voices on whisky (and spirits in general) he has written dozen of books, is a Master Of The Quaich and a Kentucky Colonel. Most importantly he’s a lover of whisky and culture. During lockdown he launched The Liquid Antiquarian YouTube channel with Arthur Motley, diving into the history of alcohol. Read his words over at thewhiskymanual.uk.
Describe your job in five words
I get paid to drink.
What do you appreciate most in a whisky?
Balance, complexity and character, but also a sense of place and provenance, the feel that it comes from somewhere and someone.
What do you appreciate least in a whisky?
No balance, no complexity, no character. Anything that smacks of the cold dead hand of marketing.
What is your most treasured whisky?
They are all treasured, but I have no attachment to them. Their worth emerges in their destruction.
What is your favourite virtue in a whisky bar?
Hospitality. Being made to feel welcome, being able to relax. Comfortable seats. Pie and beans on the menu.
What do you most dislike in a whisky bar?
Stuffiness, pretentiousness, one-upmanship, arrogance, uncomfortable seats.
If you could have any job in whisky, what would it be?
I’m happy with the one I have, thanks.
What is your favourite distillery name?
Who is your hero in whisky?
Mike Nicolson, the Gitanes puffing, blues picker who also managed pretty much every Diageo distillery (including Lagavulin and Royal Lochnagar). A man with a gift for communication and an unsurpassed depth of knowledge – plus a marvellous (and very Scottish) cynical sense of humour. He taught me about flavour, how to do presentations, simplify information, make people laugh and feel confident. I owe him everything. Then again, he owes me £20.
What is your idea of whisky happiness?
I seem to recall in a distant time people used to sit together, open a bottle, throw away the cork and sit and talk, laugh, rant, sing and occasionally cry. If that could be recreated, I’d be a very happy person.
What phrase do you most overuse when talking about whisky?
Compelling. I really must ration that one.
When do you lie about whisky?
When I buy a bottle and try to keep the purchase a secret from my wife.
Who or what is the love of your whisky life?
The island of Islay. It’s where I feel at home, where I think I do my best writing and where over the years I’ve made (and kept) great friends. It’s where I began to appreciate that whisky is just one element in a sense of place.
What is your happiest whisky memory?
Sailing around the Western Isles with a group of friends with plenty of whisky for ballast.
What is your saddest whisky memory?
My final meeting with my dear friend and mentor Michael Jackson. We were at Cooley distillery. He was already very unwell, but still had the old fire, the sense of humour and a thirst for information.
Who do you most admire?
The famers and maltsters, the mashmen, brewers and distillers; the warehouse teams, the managers and the hospitality staff, the lorry drivers, coopers, coppersmiths, archivists, brand ambassadors and bartenders. And the drinkers.
Sherry cask or bourbon cask?
If you could work at one distillery, which one would it be?
I’d be way too hamfisted to work at any distillery
What is your greatest achievement?
Hopefully, being a good father and husband.